Texans Will Be Hard Hit by Climate Change Policies

by William Yeatman on October 5, 1997

in Blog

Texans Will Be Hard Hit by Climate Change Policies

A study by Glenn Schleede, sponsored by Consumer Alert, shows heavy economic losses for the people of Texas that may result from policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Coal, oil and natural gas supply 96.2 percent of the total energy needs of Texas. Furthermore, per capita energy use in Texas is 65.2 percent higher (in 1994) than the national average because of the state’s energy-intensive and agricultural activities. Some of the costs are the following:

Texans’ electric bills would increase 10.3 to 48.4 percent annually.

A $.50 per gallon tax on motor fuels would add $285 per year to each Texan’s tax payment to Washington.

A $100 per metric ton carbon tax would cost each household in Texas $491.

Small Steps Now, Big Steps Later

Writing in Nature (September 4, 1997), Biologist Stephen Schneider and Economist Lawrence Goulder, argue that although governments can wait to implement significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, they should begin to enact modest steps now to promote low cost carbon dioxide reductions. The authors propose a carbon tax as well as a subsidy to promote new energy technologies. “Introducing the carbon tax now could be a key factor in inducing the technological change that justifies deferring most abatement to the future.” They also argue that a carbon tax is the least-cost way to bring about reductions in CO2. Moreover, a carbon tax can be recycled or rebated by lowering other taxes, such as the income tax. A research subsidy, on the other hand, should be pursued only if it can be shown to be beneficial independent of climate change benefits.

We Have Time!

In response to a question posed by Sierra Magazine (Sept./Oct. 1997), “Are you concerned about global warming?” Robert Mendelsohn of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, answered, “As long as the warming scenarios remain mild, as predicted by climate scientists, the magnitudes of the benefits to the U.S. economy would exceed the damages by $30 billion to $40 billion. Although we should monitor global warming carefully, it does not require rash and expensive mitigation strategies. We have time to further study its impacts and determine prudent responses.”

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